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Growing algae as a source of fuel could consume vast amounts of water and fertilizer, according to a study by the National Academy of Sciences. There's also a risk that the energy required to produce these fuels would make them impractical. These daunting technical problems need to be overcome if the nation wants to turn to algae fuels as a substitute for gasoline.

Actor Al Pacino is returning to Broadway in November to star in David Mamet's classic play, Glengarry Glen Ross. He's playing a different character from the one he playd in the movie version 20 years ago. According to Bloomberg News, he's making $125,000 per week, plus a cut of the show's profits — one of the biggest pay packages ever for a Broadway performer.

We've been looking at how technology has totally changed what it means to watch television or a movie. One of the biggest changes has been in demand — people want a baseball game — on their smartphone, wherever they are, right now. They want to pull up a video and stream it — on their laptop or phone, immediately, with no wait.

So, where is all this going? If the younger generation is demanding this much from their screens today, what will things look like in a few decades? Jessica Helfand, author of Screen: Essays on Graphic Design, New Media and Visual Culture, tells NPR's David Greene that it's a worrying trend.

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Steve Inskeep talks with The New Republic's Amy Sullivan, who says liberals are misreading Indiana Senate candidate Richard Mourdock in criticizing his recent comments on abortion.

The style choices of first ladies have been politicized for decades, especially since Jacqueline Kennedy famously solicited the help of fashion editor Diana Vreeland. Host Michel Martin discusses the lasting legacy of the partnership between Kennedy and Vreeland with Amanda MacKenzie Stuart, author of Empress of Fashion: A Life Of Diana Vreeland.

Giving form to the urban woman's most common nightmare — the too-helpful concierge who looks at you as though he's just rifled through your underwear drawer — Sleep Tight is a nifty little thriller that dances on the boundary between plausible and preposterous.

An old-school creeper about the evil that lurks in plain sight (and sometimes under your bed), Jaume Balaguero's slowly escalating psychodrama swirls around Cesar (Luis Tosar), caretaker of a sunny Barcelona apartment building. Cesar's tenants seem a jovial bunch, especially Clara (Marta Etura), a glowing beauty who's never without a smile. Yet though we've just seen Cesar wake up in Clara's bed, use her toothbrush and quietly exit her apartment, he still looks miserable. As we learn from his voiceover, Cesar has never felt happiness, a condition he likens to being deaf or blind. "Only worse," he sighs, unburdening himself regularly to a prone crone in a hospital bed. He calls her Mother, but as we get to know him we're not so sure.

Cesar, you see, is a very sick man; and Tosar, with his balding dome and demented-spaniel eyes, gives him a slinking servility. He'll feed the dogs of a chatty elderly resident (Petra Martinez) and smile at the insolent preteen (Iris Almeida) who inexplicably spews milk on his desk. Underneath, however, he's nursing a dark purpose: If he cannot be happy, he'll make damn sure no one else is either. By day, he plays along with the charade; by night, he executes a campaign of shocking intimidation. And as we learn the truth of his connection to Clara — and his obscene plans for their future — we can only worry about his effect on the rental market.

Enlarge Dark Sky Films

Cesar's (Luis Toscar) twisted obsession with ruining his tenants' lives is the stuff of urban legend.


Britain's Supreme Court has ruled that anyone who believed they were paid less than colleagues of the opposite sex can sue in civil courts, where the statute of limitations is six years. Until now Britons, like Americans, could only file discrimination cases within six months. The initial case involved 174 former "dinner ladies" and other city employees in Birmingham — but it may have reverberations at private and public sector workplaces.

An oil boom is under way in the United States. Since 2008 domestic oil production has increased dramatically, reversing what was a nearly three-decade decline. That has some predicting the U.S. could overtake Saudi Arabia as the world's largest petroleum producer in coming years.

In 2011 the U.S. produced 5.66 million barrels of crude oil a day, according to the Department of Energy's Energy Information Administration. By next year the agency projects that will increase 21 percent to 6.85 million barrels a day. Add in things like natural gas liquids, biofuels and processing gains at refineries and that number increases.

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Candidates Tout Different Routes To 'Energy Security'

An oil boom is under way in the United States. Since 2008 domestic oil production has increased dramatically, reversing what was a nearly three-decade decline. That has some predicting the U.S. could overtake Saudi Arabia as the world's largest petroleum producer in coming years.

In 2011 the U.S. produced 5.66 million barrels of crude oil a day, according to the Department of Energy's Energy Information Administration. By next year the agency projects that will increase 21 percent to 6.85 million barrels a day. Add in things like natural gas liquids, biofuels and processing gains at refineries and that number increases.

Related NPR Stories

Solve This

Candidates Tout Different Routes To 'Energy Security'

In a number of swing states, early voting means many people are already casting their ballots. Typically, that entails voting by mail or visiting a county elections office.

But in Iowa, satellite voting — where "pop-up" polling stations allow people to vote at convenient times and nontraditional locations — is growing in popularity.

On a recent afternoon in a Des Moines strip mall, families are stopping in at La Tapatia Tienda Mexicana for their weekly grocery haul. But today, some are doing more than shopping: For just one day, the Latino grocery has been transformed into a satellite polling location.

Mary Campos sits in her walker at the store entrance, encouraging store patrons to cast ballots. "Buenos dias," she tells incoming shoppers. "You can go on in and vote right now."

It's literally a one-stop-shop, Campos says, where you can pick up dinner, register and vote, all in one shopping trip.

"People work; they have two jobs," Campos says. "We don't know what it's gonna be like on Nov. 6. I've encouraged absentee ballots," she adds, "but I think this is wonderful, to have satellite places where they can go vote."

Shopper Ernesto Garcia says he was worried about when, and where, he would be able to vote. "I'm a truck driver, so I don't know where I'm gonna be able to go," he says. When he heard he could cast his ballot at LaTapatia, he headed there.

Enlarge Sandhya Dirks for NPR

Democrats have been particularly active in establishing satellite locations. This grocery store location was set up by the Obama campaign.

Audie Cornish talks to Jon Ralston, host of the Nevada TV show Ralston Reports. He talks about the unprecedented number of political ads airing in Nevada this year. Many shows, including his, have been shortened to create more time for ads to run.

In coming months, Congress will begin an epic struggle to get the federal budget deficit under control. One tax break almost certain to come into play is the mortgage interest deduction.

Both President Obama and his Republican rival, Mitt Romney, have suggested ways to scale back the deduction's value for wealthy taxpayers. And many economists are cheering them on, saying that now — when interest rates are low — would be a great time to reduce or even phase out the deduction.

"If we are going to have a serious effort at reform, this will have to be considered," said Mark Luscombe, principle federal tax analyst with CCH Group, a tax services and software firm.


Annalisa Quinn is the Books intern at NPR.

During my senior year of college, I plowed through all 27,803 lines of the Iliad and the Odyssey in Greek, with a lot of coffee and a reasonable amount of crying in library cubicles.

I loved Homer. But the spare, plot-driven lines of dactylic hexameter left certain essential questions unanswered — was Patroclus cute? Was Helen good in bed? I had read Adele Geras' young adult novel Troy when I was 12 or 13, years before I touched Homer, and it had given me the lasting impression that ancient Greece was a smoldering pit of lust filled with golden-haired virgins. Disappointingly, in Homer, heroes tend to be simply "good," "noble" and, occasionally, "large." This meant that even as I translated the Greek, my head would supply snatches of Troy. I'd read about Zeus and pictured him with eyes "like liquid gold," per Geras' rapturous descriptions.

The Iliad is probably a better poem for never describing the size of Helen's breasts or the exact shade of Paris' hair (a "spun gold," if you believe Geras). But there is something immensely satisfying about the unabashed sentimentalism and lush prose of Geras's Troy after the cryptic sparsity of the original, in which the city falls only by implication, when its hero, Hector, dies. We never see it go down, which is both masterful and frustrating. But Troy provides us with flames, destruction and trysts among the ruins.

The novel follows various Trojan women during the siege and destruction of the city and features several love triangles, an unwanted pregnancy, and sometimes shockingly bad prose ("There's a fire burning in my body, and only you can put it out"). Xanthe and Marpessa are a pair of sisters in love with the same boy, the unsubtly named Alastor (Greek for "vengeful spirit"), and together they survive the deaths of Hector, Achilles, Priam and, eventually, the destruction of the city.

Troy is unrelated to the 2004 film of the same name starring Brad Pitt and his glistening abdominals, but in some ways the two Troys are kindred spirits, both far more focused on Eros than Ares and not above a certain amount of melodrama. That being said, Troy-the-novel has considerably more taste than Troy-the-film, although I feel confident that Geras could have captured the sinister pre-battle gleam of Achilles' hairless chest in prose better than anyone, had she so chosen. Instead, everything in Troy has a sort of vague erotic wash — never pornographic but always suggestive.

Homeric epic has spawned countless literary retellings, some magnificent (Vergil's Aeneid), some odd (Thomas Bridges' A Burlesque Translation of Homer), and some magnificently odd (Statius' Achilleid, a first century Latin mini-epic featuring Achilles in drag). But this soap opera of a novel will always be my favorite example of trashy Homeric fan fiction.

My Guilty Pleasure is produced and edited by Ellen Silva and Rose Friedman.


"I'm not crazy," the figure says, standing alone in a dark room, as if trying to convince himself.

"I'm not crazy?" almost a question this time.

"I'm not crazy. I'm not crazy. I'm not crazy!" he yells, finally making up his mind.

And, of course, he sounds crazy.

Meet Beeshu, an avatar of the embattled president of Syria, Bashar Assad, rendered in papier-mache and mounted on someone's finger. He's the star of the show Top Goon and the inspiration for its title.

The show — a darkly funny series about a group of Syrian characters rendered as finger puppets — was recently created and produced by Syrian activists and posted on YouTube.

But to this day, no one knows their real names.

That's because the regime in Syria is still standing, and those who want to bring it down face detention, beating, sometimes torture, and sometimes death.

An Underground Operation

In other words, the Top Goon team is totally underground.

Watch a few episodes, and you'll understand why. Episode 2, "Who Wants to Kill a Million?" is a clear reference to the tens of thousands of people who have died at the hands of the regime since the anti-government uprising began more than a year and a half ago.


This episode of Top Goon featured the Syrian president on the left, a member of the security forces on the right, and a photo of the former president, Hafez Assad, who is the father of the current leader.


The mortgage interest tax deduction lets homeowners deduct the interest they pay on home loans. Some economists say it should be eliminated, but many homeowners fear a change would wreak their budgets. Host Michel Martin talks about the issue with NPR's Senior Business Editor Marilyn Geewax.

The BBC is dealing with its worst crisis in decades. At the heart of the affair: allegations that the late BBC entertainer Jimmy Savile serially sexually abused underage women. The BBC now is having to defend how it handled an investigative report into the charges.

Steve Inskeep talks with Danielle Pletka of the American Enterprise Institute and Vali Nasr, a former adviser to the Obama administration and dean of the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University, about Monday night's presidential debate focused on foreign policy.

Meet a man with a powerful addiction — to running. Caleb Daniloff says he believes the sport saved him from addictions that were far worse, and he's written a new book, called Running Ransom Road: Confronting the Past, One Marathon at a Time, about his experiences.

Daniloff has run some familiar marathons — New York and Boston — but he's also been to a place not famous for outdoor running: Moscow.

"The water was rationed, when we were running," Daniloff tells NPR's David Greene. "What happened is that there was also a 10K race, and so, they didn't want the 10K runners drinking up the marathon runners' water, so no one got water until after the 10K ... until after six miles." Farther along, Daniloff passed a water station along the race course offering not water or energy supplements, but black bread, salt, and hot tea — not exactly what marathoners need as they pass the 22nd mile.

Greene and Daniloff met in a more domestic spot — Washington, D.C.'s Hains Point, a grassy spit of land near the Jefferson Memorial. It's a popular place for runners who are getting ready for the Marine Corps Marathon, another race Daniloff has run.

"One of the things that really stands out to me about the Marine Corps Marathon was the number of wounded veterans that were running," Daniloff says. "Young guys with no arms or one leg, or family members who had the iron-on dress portraits of Marines with the birth and death dates on them. There was sort of just this huge feeling of ... there was a lot of damage that had been done, and there was a lot of healing that had taken place ... it's just very nice to see running as a way to sort of move through that."

Allegra Boverman/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Caleb Daniloff is a writer and graduate of Columbia University's creative writing program. Running Ransom Road is his first book.

President Obama and his Republican rival Mitt Romney met for the third — and final — presidential debate Monday night. The focus was foreign policy.

The presidential candidates squared off in their final debate on Monday, sparring over foreign policy and national security. Host Michel Martin discusses the debate with speechwriters Mary Kate Cary, who has worked with Republicans, and Paul Orzulak, who has worked with Democrats.

Former South Dakota Sen. George McGovern died Sunday at the age of 90. A liberal icon, he made two failed bids for president, but remained active and worked for several organizations battling world hunger. NPR's Ron Elving and Jill Callison of The Argus Leader discuss McGovern's politics and legacy.

It's been 50 years since the Cuban missile crisis had the U.S. on the brink of nuclear war with the Soviet Union. But the chaos and fear of those days are still alive in the memories of those who lived through it. Host Michel Martin talks with two Cuban-American women. One lived in Miami, and the other in Cuba during the conflict.

Former South Dakota Sen. George McGovern died Sunday at the age of 90. A liberal icon, he made two failed bids for president, but remained active and worked for several organizations battling world hunger. NPR's Ron Elving and Jill Callison of The Argus Leader discuss McGovern's politics and legacy.


Seventy-five years ago, J.R.R Tolkien wrote a book for his children called The Hobbit. It isn't just a landmark piece of fantasy literature; it's a movement — a work that's inspired everyone from director Peter Jackson to the band Led Zeppelin to Leonard Nimoy (who recorded his own homage to the book in the late 1960s — "The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins").

Yet though it's widely celebrated, The Hobbit's always kind of existed in the shadow of Tolkien's other great work, The Lord of the Rings. Corey Olsen, self-described "Tolkien professor," tells Guy Raz, host of weekends on All Things Considered, that Tolkien fans tend to fall in love with The Hobbit as children, then move on to The Lord of the Rings and never come back.

That's a great shame, Olsen says, so he's written his own book, Exploring J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit.

Interview Highlights

The Hobbit as a child's, not childish, book

"[Tolkien] was born in 1892, so he grew up with a steady diet of Victorian fairy tales ... and there was a trend, of course, in the 19th century to kind of gloss over [dark themes]. Andrew Lang's collections of fairy tales takes out the more gruesome elements from the Brothers Grimm, for instance. Tolkien was strongly opposed to this, you know, he said, children aren't meant to be Peter Pans. They aren't meant to be just sheltered and protected from anything gruesome. They are meant to grow up. That happens, they can gain wisdom and strength from being exposed to these things and knowing that these things are out there."

Enlarge Andrew Olsen/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Corey Olsen is an English professor at Washington College in Maryland. He is also the president and founder of the Mythgard Institute, an online teaching center for the study of Tolkien and other works.

Dish Network is settling with Cablevision and AMC Networks after a well-publicized and drawn-out fight in court and on the airwaves. Dish will resume distributing AMC and other channels as part of the settlement, and pay a hefty sum, too — roughly $700 million.

Thailand's Phi Phi Islands are famous for the sun during the day and beach-side cocktail parties at night. This summer, two Canadian sisters set off for a rite-of-passage trip to the islands' white sands. They never came back.

Noemi, 25, and Audrey, 20, Belanger were found dead in their hotel room. Their deaths were among the latest in a series of mysterious deaths in Southeast Asia. Over the past few years, nearly a dozen young travelers, mostly Western women, have inexplicably died while traveling in the region.

The deaths have caught the attention of science writer Deborah Blum, who's written about them in Wired magazine. A poison expert, Blum tells weekends on All Things Considered host Guy Raz that a popular cocktail may hold a clue.

Enlarge Stephen Shaver/AFP/Getty Images

The Phi Phi Islands in Thailand are a tourists' paradise. In June, sisters Noemi and Audrey Belanger were found dead in their hotel room there.

Steve Inskeep talks with David Ignatius of the Washington Post about his recent story on intelligence reports on the attack in Benghazi, Libya. Four Americans were killed, and initial CIA reports appear to support the Obama administration's narrative. Sharp questions about who knew what, when, will likely arise in Monday night's presidential debate.


Friday, Twitter agreed to pull racist tweets after a French organization threatened to sue. The company has resisted efforts to police its content. But hate speech is illegal in many European countries, and anti-hate groups there are grappling with how to deal with the challenge of social media.

At the Paris office of the French Union of Jewish Students, Vice President Elie Petit takes calls while he works on his computer. He shows how it all began on Oct. 10. The Twitter hashtag #unbonjuif, or "a good Jew," prompted a flood of anti-Semitic tweets. The tweets poured in for days.

"In France, we don't call this, as Twitter said ... abuse content," Petit says. "This is not abuse content. It's the call for murder of Jews, and this is a crime in France."

Many European countries have strict laws against hate speech targeted at specific groups. The policies evolved in the aftermath of the Holocaust, which came about after years of Nazi hate propaganda.

Petit and his colleagues held a conference call Thursday night with Twitter executives in California and tried to explain the French point of view. But he says Twitter refused to delete the tweets, claiming the demand must come from national authorities or police.

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